The focus of this year’s World No Tobacco Day, May 31, is on protecting young people from the marketing of big tobacco companies and helping them avoid using tobacco and nicotine. Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors this awareness day to highlight the health risks of using tobacco and to encourage governments to put policies into action that help to reduce smoking and the use of other tobacco products.
According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than 8 million people around the world each year, a number that is predicted to grow unless anti-tobacco actions are increased. In the United States, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. It causes many types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and other health problems.
This year, WHO is encouraging efforts that empower young people to stand up to big tobacco companies by resisting their ads and marketing, refusing to use any tobacco or nicotine products (including e-cigarettes and other vaping devices), and helping to spread the message among their friends. WHO is also working to expose myths and the ways tobacco companies market their products to young people. They are encouraging famous people, the media, and other influencers including parents and teachers to protect young people from these harmful messages. According to WHO, tobacco companies use many ways to appeal to young people:
Studies show that most people who smoke started when they were teenagers. The younger someone is when they begin to use tobacco and nicotine products, the more likely they are to become addicted. This is why it’s so important for young people to stay away from smoking and vaping. Learn more from the American Cancer Society.